Teach A New Pet Its Name

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April 25, 2012
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Bringing home a new pet to be part of the family is exciting and fun for everyone. Your new pet gets a fresh start and you get to know this new four-legged buddy. Once a name is chosen it’s time to teach your pet to distinguish it from other words. Most pets can learn their name or at least associate their name to mean that you want them to come or turn to you. If you haven’t had a new pet in a while, or if this is your first pet, teaching a name can take a little bit of time.

Often times calling your pet’s name and then a command works well such as, “Max, dinner.” For a pet to associate his name and learn it, the name should be significant to the activity. Aside from dinner, saying, “Max, outside” or “Max, walk” can help your pet begin to know its name and to pay attention when called. Cats can also learn their name through the same means of positive association.

When I come home and my cats come over for attention, I say hello to each of them and use their names. I also will give them a treat or food and call their names. It’s been 14 years so they definitely know their names. As kittens when they were given a treat or being petted I’d use their names to get their attention and invite them to sit on my lap, be hugged, or play. When they would use the scratching post, I’d praise them and use their name.

It’s important to say the pet’s name and to reward when s/he turns towards you. When teaching commands to dogs, their name gains their attention, the command is then the second word. “Max, sit” or Max, come” helps your pet distinguish that you want their attention and not the other pet in the house or at the dog park.

Try to never use your pet’s name when scolding or correction behavior, but it can happen. One way to get around this and avoid it is to use a formal name, “Maximilian! NO!” helps and may also deflate some of the anger. Parents tend to do this with their children. Try it with your pets. With practice and time, a new pet will start to know its name and know that paying attention to you means good things happen.

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